Broadcast licensees of television and radio stations must abide by FCC rules when conducting contests. Licensees must fully and accurately disclose the rules and material terms of the contest and must conduct the contest substantially as advertised. Contest announcements may not be false, misleading or deceptive.

Lotteries

Federal law generally prohibits the broadcast of information about, or advertisements for, lotteries, except for:

  • Lotteries conducted by a state where the ad is broadcast by a station licensed to a location in that state.
  • Gaming legally conducted by an Indian tribe.
  • Both in-state and out-of-state broadcast advertisements for lawful casino gambling.
  • Lotteries authorized or not otherwise prohibited by a state in which they are advertised so long as they are conducted by a not-for-profit or governmental organization or as a promotional activity by a commercial organization when it is not the primary business of that organization.
  • Certain fishing contests that are not conducted on a for-profit basis.

Solicitations of Funds

Generally, broadcasts of requests for funds intended for lawful purposes – including requests for contributions to meet station operating expenses – are permitted by federal law.

Penalties

If you believe that a station has violated FCC rules regarding contests, lotteries or solicitations of funds, you can file a complaint with the FCC. Violations may lead to sanctions against holders of broadcast licenses.

Printable Version

Broadcasting Contests, Lotteries, and Solicitation of Funds (pdf)

 

Date Last Updated/Reviewed: 
Friday, January 8, 2021